Monday, 5 December 2011

A+ Australia One Day Wine School

I was very fortunate to be invited to attend this event last week, hosted by Tim Atkin MW, Nick Stock and Andrew Jefford. The day started with a summary of where the Australian wine industry is today, how far it has come and what the problems are. Andrew Jefford then gave a talk on the importance and variation of terroir in the country, and how it influences the wine styles. After lunch the tasting started, with fifty wines to cover this was a good work out for the palate, and good practice for my forthcoming WSET exams.

All wines were of a very good standard, with it being evident that some areas such as Mornington Peninsula have yet to reach their full potential.We worked our way through a couple of fine Semillon, a couple of good sparklers, some very ripe Viognier, a few lime rich Reislings, some fine Chardonnay, many glorious Pinot Noir - but then I am slightly biased - eight very characterful Shiraz, followed by some Shiraz blends, then onto Cabernet Sauvignon, and finally some rather good Rutherglen Muscat.  Thanks to Yvonne May for the invite, and to the hosts for a thoroughly enjoyable day. 

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Lebanese Wine Tasting

A thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours at this establishment on Wigmore Street:

 Some thoroughly modern styles of wine making, lots of very rich pear dominated Viognier blends and some interesting reds, oaked and unoaked.

 Some Lebanese dishes were offered as a way of reinforcing the wine experience, I sampled one and then decided to leave to see these chaps:

Matt is a contact I know through friends of friends, you know how these networking things work out. I was offered a glass of wine immediately, and sat and chewed the fat for a while. During the second glass Robbie of Upward Recruitment dropped in after a Languedoc tasting, so it was good to meet him after having spoken so recently. I couldn't go away empty handed after all the hospitality the chaps had shown me, and purchased a rather good Martinborough Pinot Noir, more of which later.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Chateau d'Yquem 1976

I was very fortunate to have a glass of this at a significant birthday on Sunday. It was everything that I expected and more, unctuous, honeyed, herbal, almost medicinal, with that intense sweetness balanced with a raging acidity. It's not often in life that we get to try such things, and the moment should be savoured. Thanks Jo and David for your hospitality, and Liz for the wine.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Finished Already?

It is with a little sadness that I enter this post. My Diploma course is over, there are no more structured learning days in town. Apart from two exams next year and some tutorial time, that is it.

 However,  I must keep up the momentum with my tasting and studies...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


I have just had the a 'phone conversation with a chap by the name of Robbie Ward who's just started his own drinks recruitment agency.

It's always good to hear someone with a different perspective give a bit of encouragement, it becomes very easy to dwell on the negatives when searching for a new opening. Particularly when that search is nearly a year old. He did confirm a few facts that I already suspected about buying positions though, principally that they are 'dead mans shoes' and few and far between, but no reason not to hone networking skills and put my face out there. Thanks for the chat Robbie, I wish you every success with your business.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Some More Venice

The second of our two days found us wandering east and getting thoroughly lost. Which was just what we intended. Following a few simple rules in search of a restaurant: don't go to those with menus in many languages, avoid those with someone outside attempting to usher you in and try to find a place full of locals and not tourists: we found a small, bustling venue packed with locals enjoying Saturday lunch.

Not wanting anything too heavy or snooze inducing we chose a glorious fish risotto with a glass of Prosecco - of course.

The afternoon found us a bit parched and in need of fortification, a glass of Valpolicela Ripasso soon rectified the situation. Shame about the state of the glass...

In the evening we were booked into a slightly less glamorous location, but still of a certain standard. Looking forward to trying some different wines I got stuck on the Pinot Nero, but unfortunately all three of my choices were absent. Our waiter, who also happened to be the son of the owners and the wine buyer, recommended this:

Initially the nose promised little, but opened in about twenty minutes to lots of berry fruit flavours, but backed up by respectable levels of tannin. Ideal with my smoked goose parts and foie gras starter.

That's enough of that, all this writing about food is making me hungry.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Weekend in Venice

Last Thursday saw us off to Venice for two days of culture, cuisine and getting lost. And of course some Italian wines. Lunch on Friday meant an opportunity to try the local seafood, and to accompany this it had to be a carafe of prosecco. We started with the obvious, and then I chose tagliatelle with mussels, razor clams and cockles and Jo had the squid with ink pasta. A great way to fuel an afternoon of walking and nosing at modern art.

And the evening took us to a rather good restaurant a mere five minute stroll from our hotel. The wine list was enormous, and very interesting. But rather than sit and read the entire thing I asked the waiter what he would recommend, a little difficult given that we had both chosen raw fish to start and meat to follow. The wine he chose was a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Reisling and Tokay, substantially oak aged in 225 litre barriques. Very good body and structure with the oak, although present, not being too overpowering and destroying the fruit flavours. I suspect that this was one of the examples of Italy creating wines for modern tastes with international grape varieties.

         It went rather well with my carpacio of scallops, and Jo's carpacio of fish.

And my lamb shank.